UAE doctors reveal benefits of cycling for both body and mind
ABU DHABI // Looking forward to The National’s second Cycle to Work day on January 12, experts say that cycling has benefits for the mind and body.
People who cycle to work are happier and have a better quality of life than those who walk, drive or use public transport, according to a study by the University of Sydney.
Srividya Iyer, head of physiotherapy at Burjeel Hospital, said medical research supported the findings.
“Cycling on a regular basis has many short-term and long-term health benefits such as preventing obesity, cardiovascular disease and, in some cases, Type 2 diabetes,” said Ms Iyer, who has been cycling for two years.
“When you cycle, your level of stress hormones is reduced and this makes you less anxious.
“Cycling can be used to improve one’s strength as well as the fitness level of the heart.”
Ms Iyer said recent research showed that cycling promotes the formation of new synapses between nerve cells.
The more new synapses are formed, the faster a person can think, react or solve problems. This helps to improve the memory as well.
There are, however, health risks involved in cycling, especially if a person is physically unfit.
Ms Iyer suggested that prospective cyclists consult a fitness coach or physician before exercising, as well as invest in proper safety equipment.
Adam Griffin, a senior occupational therapist at Camali Clinic in Dubai Healthcare City, said cycling should be part of a weekly routine.
“In one case, this was a jump-start to a healthier, more active lifestyle, which resulted in greater focus in the classroom and improved communication and connection between parent and child.”
Sally Ferris, an Australian yoga trainer in Abu Dhabi, said cycle-to-work campaigns had been common in Australia for the past 20 years.
“There are some huge wellness benefits to cycling,” she said. “As a yoga teacher, my main goal for my students is that they have a good balance in their lives.
“We are addicted to staying indoors and stuck to screens, but by hopping on your bikes, it helps to recalibrate and balance it out.”
Ms Ferris and her family live in Al Raha Beach, where they have a shared bicycle scheme.
Residents can hire a bicycle and drop it off at the next point, making it accessible for those who do not own bicycles.
“When we go for coffee we cycle there rather than get into a car. This is an activity families can get together,” she said.
› For more, visit: www.thenational.ae/cycletowork
Updated: December 13, 2015 04:00 AM